The U.S. border is secure and it is time to move forward on
comprehensive immigration overhaul, Department of Homeland Security
Secretary Janet Napolitano told ABC News in an exclusive interview.
"My belief is that you need to fix the entire system because, from my
standpoint, one of the biggest draws of illegal traffic across the
border is the demand for illegal labor," she said Thursday.
"And until you have a natural -- a nationwide system, for employers to
be able to verify their employees, it's really tough to get at that
The secretary, who worked the Arizona-New Mexico border for 20 years as a
prosecutor and then governor, said the border can always be improved
and should never stop benefitting from new security technology, but the
difference between today's border and that of days past is evident.
"The amount of manpower, technology, everything else that we have put on
that border is simply amazing," she said. "This is not the same border
Arizona, often an area of contention among advocates of strong border
security, has seen more infrastructure developments in the Tucson
sector, which is the bulk of Arizona's border-protection zone, than
"just about any other place on the southwest border," she said.
"We're putting mobile surveillance so that we can move around and watch
and we have increased the boots on the ground," she said. "Over the last
couple of years, we've added what we call boots in the air, aerial
surveillance, for the first time, border-wide, but really focused on
that Tucson sector."
Napolitano says the progress made in Tucson is "the greatest of all the nine Border Patrol sectors."
She emphasized the need for improving access to visas to allow entry
into the United States legally and bring the undocumented workers "out
of the shadows."
"So that we know who they are, we have their biometrics, and we're
better able to then focus on narco-traffickers and human smugglers and
trans-national criminal operations, the big law enforcement needs that
we have," she said.
For the secretary, the argument that border security is needed before overhaul doesn't cut it.
"That argument often is used as a way of not addressing the underlying
issue," she said, "which is how do you deal with the whole system?"
When pressed about what it'll take to convince those who insist on
fixing the border first, she said,
"There are some who we will never convince, because what they mean by
border security is sealing the border and that is not going to be
feasible. It's a very rugged, tough border.
"It is a border that is thousands of miles long. So what I would say is
that it's not time to delay for some ephemeral definition of border
security. It's time to appreciate what's there, to commit to sustaining
that over time and to deal with the whole system."
And, she said, "hope springs eternal," adding that Homeland Security
will continue its supportive role in the discussion and she hopes it can
be addressed in bi-partisan way.
For More Information Contact us at:
- Eli Kantor
- Beverly Hills, California, United States
- Eli Kantor is a labor, employment and immigration law attorney. He has been practicing labor, employment and immigration law for more than 36 years. He has been featured in articles about labor, employment and immigration law in the L.A. Times, Business Week.com and Daily Variety. He is a regular columnist for the Daily Journal. Telephone (310)274-8216; firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com and and beverlyhillsemploymentlaw.com